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G.R. No.

156037 May 25, 2007


PETITIONER MERCURY DRUG CORPORATION
RESPONDENTS SEBASTIAN M. BAKING
PONENTE SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ

FACTS:

Baking went to Dr Sy for a medical check-up where he was diagnosed to have above normal
levels of blood sugar and triglyceride and consequently, was prescribed to take Diamicron and
Benalize tablets to return his blood sugar and triglyceride, respectively, to normal levels.
However, when Baking presented the prescription to the saleslady of Mercury Drug, said
saleslady misread Diamicron as Dormicum, a potent sleeping tablet.

During medication, Baking was involved in a vehicular collision by reason of him getting asleep
while driving. Suspecting that the tablet he took may have a bearing on his physical and mental
state at the time of the collision, Baking returned to Dr. Sys clinic and found out that the
medicine given to him by Mercury Drugs saleslady was not the one as indicated in the
prescription presented.

Baking then filed a complaint for damages before the RTC. It ruled in its favor. On appeal with
CA, it affirmed the decision of the RTC. Hence, the instant petition.

ISSUE/S:

1. Whether Mercury Drug may be held liable for damages resulting from the negligence of its
employee; and

2. Whether the award of moral damages, attorneys fees, litigation expenses, and cost of the
suit is justified?

RULING:

1. Yes, Mercury Drug may be held liable for damages resulting from the negligence of its
employee.

2. Yes, the award of moral damages is justified. However, as to attorneys fees, litigation
expenses, and cost of the suit, they should be deleted.

RATIO DECIDENDI:

Mercury Drug is impleaded in this case on the basis of Art 2180 in relation to Art 2176 of the
Civil Code. Hence, we need to first ascertain whether Art 2176 applies before we proceed in
determining the applicability of Art 2180 in order to ascertain whether Mercury Drug can be held
liable for damages.

1. Article 2176 of the New Civil Code provides:

Art. 2176. Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault
or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if
there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is called a quasi-
delict and is governed by the provisions of this Chapter.

To sustain a claim based on the above provision, the following requisites must concur:

(a) damage suffered by the plaintiff;

(b) fault or negligence of the defendant; and,

(c) connection of cause and effect between the fault or negligence of the defendant and
the damage incurred by the plaintiff.

Damage suffered by the plaintiff

It is patent that Baking sustained damages because of the vehicular collision.


Fault or negligence of the defendant

It is generally recognized that the drugstore business is imbued with public interest. The health
and safety of the people will be put into jeopardy if drugstore employees will not exercise the
highest degree of care and diligence in selling medicines. The care required must be
commensurate with the danger involved, and the skill employed must correspond with the
superior knowledge of the business which the law demands.

Inasmuch as the matter of negligence is a question of fact, we defer to the findings of the trial
court affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Obviously, petitioners employee was grossly negligent
in selling to respondent Dormicum, instead of the prescribed Diamicron. She should have
verified whether the medicine she gave respondent was indeed the one prescribed by his
physician.

Connection of cause and effect between the fault or negligence of the defendant and the
damage incurred by the plaintiff

Here, the vehicular accident could not have occurred had petitioners employee been careful in
reading Dr. Sys prescription. Without the potent effects of Dormicum, a sleeping tablet, it was
unlikely that respondent would fall asleep while driving his car, resulting in a collision.

Satisfying the three (3) requisites, Mercury Drugs sales lady is found to be liable for quasi-delict
under Art 2176 of the NCC.

Under Art 2180 of the same Code, the obligation imposed by Article 2176 is demandable not
only for ones own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible.
It further provides that the owners and managers of an establishment or enterprise are likewise
responsible for damages caused by their employees in the service of the branches in which the
latter are employed or on the occasion of their functions. Nevertheless, the responsibility treated
of in this article shall cease when the persons herein mentioned prove that they observed the
diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage.

It is thus clear that the employer of a negligent employee is liable for the damages caused by
the latter. When an injury is caused by the negligence of an employee, there instantly arises a
presumption of the law that there has been negligence on the part of the employer, either in the
selection of his employee or in the supervision over him, after such selection. The presumption,
however, may be rebutted by a clear showing on the part of the employer that he has exercised
the care and diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of his
employee.

Here, petitioners failure to prove that it exercised the due diligence of a good father of a family
in the selection and supervision of its employee will make it solidarily liable for damages caused
by the latter.

2. As regards the award of moral damages, we hold the same to be in order. Moral damages
may be awarded whenever the defendants wrongful act or omission is the proximate cause
of the plaintiffs physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched
reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury in the cases
specified or analogous to those provided in Article 2219 of the Civil Code.

In addition, we also deem it necessary to award exemplary damages. Article 2229 allows the
grant of exemplary damages by way of example or correction for the public good. As mentioned
earlier, the drugstore business is affected with public interest. Petitioner should have exerted
utmost diligence in the selection and supervision of its employees. On the part of the employee
concerned, she should have been extremely cautious in dispensing pharmaceutical products.

On the matter of attorneys fees and expenses of litigation, it is settled that the reasons or
grounds for the award thereof must be set forth in the decision of the court. Since the trial
courts decision did not give the basis of the award, the same must be deleted.

DOCTRINE LEARNED:

Civil Law; Negligence; Damages; Requisites to sustain a claim based on Article 2176 of the
New Civil Code.To sustain a claim based on the above provision, the following requisites
must concur:

(a) damage suffered by the plaintiff;


(b) fault or negligence of the defendant; and,
(c) connection of cause and effect between the fault or negligence of the defendant and the
damage incurred by the plaintiff.

Same; Same; Same; Definition and determination of probable cause.Proximate cause is


defined as any cause that produces injury in a natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by
any efficient intervening cause, such that the result would not have occurred otherwise.
Proximate cause is determined from the facts of each case, upon a combined consideration of
logic, common sense, policy, and precedent.

Same; Same; Same; When an injury is caused by the negligence of an employee, there
instantly arises a presumption of the law that there has been negligence on the part of the
employer, either in the selection of his employee or in the supervision over him after such
selection; Presumption may be rebutted by a clear showing on the part of the employer that
he has exercised the care and diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and
supervision of his employee.